Field Hockey Claims Third Straight NEC Championship

The Rider field hockey team defeated Monmouth University 3-2 on November 3 at Ben Cohen Field to capture their third 2012 Northeast Conference Championship in a row.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Led by two goals and an assist from Sandra Penas ’13, the Rider field hockey team defeated Monmouth University 3-2 on November 3 at Ben Cohen Field to capture the 2012 Northeast Conference Championship. The title is the third in a row for Rider (14-5), and the Broncs are now 26-1 all-time at Ben Cohen Field, which opened in fall 2010.

“With what we lost to graduation from 2011, this was a very satisfying win,” said head coach Lori Hussong. “To see how this team developed and bounced back from adversity during the season, it is gratifying to see the players rewarded for their hard work. I couldn’t be more proud.”

With Rider trailing 2-1 and less than 12 minutes on the clock, Penas converted a penalty corner with sophomore Eefje Kok ’15 and Rachel Ippolite ’16 picking up the assists with 11:23 remaining, tying the game 2-2.

Penas then used a backhanded shot from the top of the circle for her league-leading 19th goal of the season, giving the Broncs a 3-2 lead with 7:12 left in the game. The goal lifted Penas to third on Rider’s all-time scoring list with 131 points (53 goals, 25 assists).

Penas assisted on Rider’s first goal of the game, with Allison Muschs ’16 scoring her eighth of the season as the Broncs took a 1-0 lead 28:58 into the game.

Monmouth (8-13) came out of the intermission on fire, scoring back-to-back goals 6 minutes and 23 seconds apart in the 42nd and 48th minutes to take a 2-1 lead.

“They (Monmouth) had the momentum going in their direction after they scored the go ahead goal and we knew that we had to change up a couple of things," Hussong said. “We went to a four-man line and that really helped us keep the pressure on them. We never stopped fighting but credit to Monmouth as well, they worked hard.”

Rider outshot the Hawks 18-12 and held a 17-11 penalty corner advantage.

Goaltender Joelle Prettyman ’16 made four saves to pick up her ninth win of the season.

Penas, Burgo, Marlaine Schneider ’13 and Ellie LaBar ’13 were named to the NEC All-Tournament team with Penas taking home NEC Most Valuable Player honors.

This season, Rider won the Northeast Conference regular season title for the fourth year in a row and seventh time overall (2001, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012).  Rider also won its third NEC tournament championship in a row and sixth overall (2000, 2002, 2004, 2010, 2011 and 2012). The Broncs have appeared in 11 of the last 13 NEC championship games.

By winning the NEC, the Broncs advanced to the NCAA Tournament Play-In game, where they lost in overtime to the University of Massachusetts, the nation’s 16th ranked team, by a 2-1 score on November 6 in Amherst, Mass.

“I’m proud of the effort,” Hussong said. “At the beginning of the year, we were young and inexperienced and it took a really long time for the leaders to really establish themselves. Our seniors did an outstanding job of staying with it and pounding away and teaching how things are done at Rider.”

The Broncs return 19 letter-winners next year for Hussong, who has a 184-77 record in 13 seasons at Rider.

“Every season is different but the experience and pressure of playing in an NCAA Play-In can’t be simulated,” Hussong said. “We are already going to be a stronger team not only because of this season but the experiences of the three straight NCAA Play-In games for the rising junior class coming back. It is going to make everyone hungry to achieve this again next year.”

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The Broncs return 19 letter-winners next year to defend their NEC title.